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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Caotic days

Sunday 12th of January 2014
We heard a Ciadian truck was on its way here to help Bozoum's refugees leave this place if they wanted to.
At 1 pm the Misca from Paua contacted me to go and talk to the Antibalakas and prevent them to attack. We took this opportunity also to make the Seleka leave after their disarm.
We hoped this would have calmed down the situation and avoid the Antibalakas to attack and go back home to their villages, despite the 1300 houses burned to the ground.
In Bossangoa, Captain Sangaris, agreed with us.At 3 pm, i went to visit Colonel Yahaya, wounded and in bed. He was very weak, and i explained him the situation, asked him to lay down their weapons and return them to Ciad via Bangui. A big discussion arised afterwards among some of his men. Finally we left, hoping that they will accept this option which could save them, many Muslim and Bozoum. If they won't take this chance, the Antibalakas will go on fighting. After this meeting we went to the Imam to update him on the situation.

Monday, the 13th of January 2014
Today a convoy was supposed to leave, escorted by MISCA  and the Chadian troupes. The agreement was to let them leave along with the Selekas, after been disarmed. At 1 pm I had a doubt and decided to go check if they were leaving even without Selekas, therefore leaving the city unprotected. I explained they couldn't leave the city in their hands, or hey would have struck a vendetta. We came back and tried to discuss. Manu Muslims were against the Seleka's departure, they threatened me and began throwing stones at my car, some arrived with weapons, some tried to defend and protect me. Finally they agreed to leave here the FOMAC and then to move the convoy. I preceded them, up to 20 km, paying the Antibalakas not to attack the convoy which included 50 trucks and cars, and 100 bikes. About 3 pm while i was still in town, as they shot in the air a couple of times to distance the crowd out of the way, rumour had it I had been killed... So, once i came back at 6.15 it was as if the Messiah came back on Earth. Screaming, clothing laid down in front of the won't believe it. Finally i managed to quiet them down and thanked them. We prayed to Mary for those who just left us. both sides...

Tuesday, the 14th of January 2014

Quiet night. The first with non Selekas in Bozoum. They left on a convoy to Chad and in Paua they were disarmed by the Misca. 
Miscas patrolled during the night and left at 1 pm today leaving us unprotected. I hope there wont be troubles, they should be coming back tomorrow.
We left at 8.30 to Bossangoa. Last week several houses had been burned by the selekas. there were no Antibalakas here, we met up with some refugees in the Evangelic monks' church. we announced the Selekas had gone and they would be able to come home in a couple of days, and brought them 240 kg of rice. We set off on the Bangui road and met with two of the biggest Antibalaks groups, told them the news and set a date for tomorrow's meeting with Misca and mediation committee. At 4 pm I set off to Bocaranga - Paoua, met about a hundred Antbalaks. we talked for quite a while and we'll see each other again tomorrow first thing. The reason for all these meetings is to explain the Selekas departure, quiet them down and lay down their weapons.

Wednesday and Thursday  5th and 16th of January 2014

in the morning, after a mediation committee with the Northside Antibalakas, an OCHA mission (from the United Nation) and UNHCR (refugees committee) arrived along with BBC journalist. 
We all went in the afternoon on the Bangui road to meet with the Antibalakas. Jerome (the cathechist leased by the Selekas last week) also came. It was a long meeting, where we tried to send a peaceful message and to come back to a normal life. It's not easy.
In the evening I came across some Antibalakas carrying weapons on the Mission grounds, i took them away and asked not to come into towns with weapons anymore.
On Thursday morning at 6 am we celebrated Mass and the refugees began to go back home 
At 9 am on the Bossangoa road we met some Antibalakas and asked them to leave. We had only 11 Misca men, it wasn't easy.
In the afternoon we witnessed to plunders and violence from Antibalakas on the Muslim community and those who cooperated with the Selekas. We had an emergency meeting and decided to put a corfew from 8 pm to 5 am
After that I went and visited the Muslims who were scared to death and tried to calm them down. I walked home and on my way everyone i met i asked them to return their weapon.
I went into town after 8 pm, everything seemed a bit better. 
It is obvious we need a stronger military presence, Misca only left 11 men here and it's definitely not enough to begin safety protocols here or disarming (which is pressing matter)

Friday the 17th of January 2014
Confused day. In the morning everything seemed under control. Misca had been reinforced with a tank and a dozen men, they set up two checkpoints in town and seemed to be working. They began disarming Antibalaks. problem is they also took away their gri-gri (amulets) and this provoked them, the situation got worse. I went around like a headless chicken tried my best to counsel and support. at 10 am a big group was trying to get in. After a long discussion they seemed to back off. I went back to the Mission and they took the other roads to the city, found some weapons and began to attack the Miscas.
The action was quick, they were shooting in the air. 2.30 pm the situation seemed to calm down, we met at 3.30 and it seemed with good understanding. We expressed our worries about this situation, the tension, the plunders and violence caused ( at least 60 shops ransacked and 5 people wounded) We  listened to what they had to say, invited them to isolate the most violent element end the thieves, and tried to involve them in the safety procedures.
Tomorrow afternoon we'll try to set up a schedule, and to sign up conditions to stop violence and thefts. It won't be easy. At 9 pm tonight they called me because there had been a robbery despite the corfew. We found three armed young men. Managed to disarm them

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